I was picking up sub sandwiches for my daughters at Harris Teeter recently and asked the person making it to put the oil and vinegar on the bread as usual. That's the best way if you're having an Italian-style sub. The oil and vinegar soak into the bread and stay there. If you put them on the sandwich ingredients, they run out when the sandwich is closed and wrapped in the wax paper. On the way home it made me think back to where I learned that...
When I was a kid growing up in northern New Jersey, there was a "pizza place" around the corner --literally. Three houses up to the corner and one store (a barber shop) away. I don't remember the name of the place (it being just "the pizza place") and I don't remember the name of the owner although I spent a lot of time both inside and walking past it to school and other stores and friends houses. I do remember that pizza was twenty-five cents a slice and Sicilian was thirty. Sub sandwiches were one dollar and during the making of one of those sandwiches the owner explained that I should always put the oil and vinegar on the bread. Good advice sticks with you. Stores don't. Later the storefront became a photo studio and then an insurance office.
I don't remember buying a whole pizza from "the pizza place", although I'm sure we did at one time or another. Our family pizza place was Angelo's, a take-out only place a little more than a quarter mile away. Well within walking distance, but not if you like your pizza hot. So we would call in the order and then drive. The folks at Angelo's made great pizzas for $2.50. (I know, I'm old.) On a Friday or Saturday night, there wasn't even double parking available in front of the place so we'd have to park in the A&P parking lot next door and I would have to hoof it around the corner for the pizza.
After "the pizza place" around the corner closed, I gravitated to "The Pizza Pub" across town (one square mile of a town). I was hanging out with my high school friends at that point at The Pub and even after we started driving we would end up there more often than not when we wanted a snack. The Pub always had three shakers on the tables: parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and oregano --lovely oregano. To this day when we get a pizza I look for the piece with the most oregano on it.
During my high school years another place opened called "Hogan's Heroes" that only sold sandwiches (no pizza) and hot dogs. My friends and I would walk (that's all we could do) to "Hogan's" and get sandwiches or sometimes hot dogs with everything on them (kraut, mustard, chili, and relish).
The woman who owned it got to know us pretty well and we'd hang out and talk for a while sometimes. Once she asked me and my friend if we liked rice pudding and gave us two good-sized tubs that were getting close to expiring. She wouldn't take anything for them, saying she just didn't want them to go to waste and rice pudding wasn't selling well. I will always remember walking down the street in a light, chilly drizzle, eating rice pudding with my friend, Leo.
Long before we moved to the town with all those places we lived in another town with a sandwich place three doors down and four up, across from the Grand Union supermarket. "Roma III" gave me my introduction to Italian subs and I will forever be grateful to them. It was 1966 and I would beg money from Mom for a sandwich. Whenever she gave in, I would head over there with my crew cut and "my" money clenched in my fist. I couldn't wait to order my Italian sub and put that money up on the counter, running home with my prize to unwrap it on the kitchen table and guard it from my mooching little brother.
I don't remember if the folks at Roma III put the oil and vinegar on the bread, but they probably did...